Calibre review

An ebook reader for anyone with an aversion to Amazon

TechRadar Verdict

A brilliant free ebook reader designed with usability in mind, but if your ebook collection originated on the Kindle store you'll need to stick with Amazon's own software.


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    Cross-platform compatibility

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    Portable version available

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    Can open Amazon AWZ files


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    Can't open DRM-protected books

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You don’t need a dedicated device to enjoy ebooks. There are some excellent free apps around for reading them on your desktop too, and Calibre is one of the best. 


Where to download:

Type: Ebook reader

Developer: Kovid Goyal

Operating system: Windows, Mac, Linux

Version: 3

Calibre is a free, open source ebook reader that’s available for Windows, Mac and Linux, with an extra portable version for Windows PCs. This is particularly handy, because you can keep on a USB stick or other removable storage device along with your book collection, enabling you to read them on any PC.

Calibre also supports RSS feeds, so you can gather news from your favorite magazines and news sites in one place without opening a web browser.

User experience

Calibre’s interface has been designed with care and attention, making it easy to manage your ebook archive. The icons are big and bold (great for touchscreens) and even complex options are only a couple of clicks or taps away. All the controls are well labelled, but also have tooltips so you can hover over anything you aren’t certain about for an explanation – a small feature, but one that’s missing from many ebook readers.

Calibre makes it simple to transfer books between your desktop machine and any ereaders you own – either wirelessly or via a USB cable. Just set it up the first time you use the software, and Calibre will automatically convert books to the best format when transferring them to your device.

Unlike most free ebook readers (with the obvious exception of Amazon’s own software), Calibre can open books in AWZ format. It won’t let you read DRM-protected works though, which rules out literature that’s still in copyright. That’s the only real drawback here, but it’s likely to be a dealbreaker for anyone who’s hooked on the Kindle store.

Latest updates

The latest version of Calibre adds several new features and bug fixes, including the ability to delete a downloaded book from the 'Browse all downloaded books' screen, and resolving an issue where the book list sometimes jumped around when using the mouse. For a full list of all changes, see the release notes.

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Cat Ellis
Homes Editor

Cat is Homes Editor on TechRadar, specializing in kitchen appliances and smart home technology. She's been a journalist for 15 years, is a keen home cook, and is here to help you choose the right tech for your home, get the best deals, and do more with your new devices.